What is the IIHS Small Overlap Front Test?
For many years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has served as one of the go-to sources for vehicle safety ratings, and their Top Safety Pick ratings have become some of the most trusted in the industry. In the past, the non-profit organization funded by automotive insurers, subjected vehicles to a total of four safety tests, but recently, they added another test to the list: the small overlap front test.
Since the test was implemented, it has proved to be one of the most difficult to pass. Perhaps because automakers were not required to complete the test, and therefore did not focus on trying to ensure that their vehicles were equipped to take on the type of crash that it simulates. So what is the IIHS small overlap front test and why is it so difficult to pass? Let’s take a closer look at how the test is completed.
One of the four tests conducted in the past—and that is still conducted today—is the moderate overlap front test, which looks at what would happen if a large percentage of the vehicle’s front end were to come in contact with a rigid barrier, such as a tree or utility pole, while traveling at a speed of 40 mph. The small overlap front test looks at the exact same thing, but it measures results for a small percentage of the front end coming into contact with the barrier. Rather than 40 percent, only 25 percent makes contact.
Since there is only a small part that hits the barrier, much of the protection work relies on the frame and body of the vehicle. The moderate overlap front test allows the engine to absorb some of the impact, but that’s not the case in the small version of the test. The impact also propels the driver diagonally towards the A pillar, rather than to the front or to the side. This also means that the both the seatbelts, as well as the airbags, must be impeccable. For that reason, the test has been difficult for many automakers to pass.
Those who are able to pass the small overlap front test are awarded with the most prestigious rating out there. The Top Safety Pick+ rating is reserved for vehicles that are able to pass all four of the original tests with the highest rating of “good” and the small overlap front test with nothing less than the second highest rating of “acceptable.” As we said, few vehicles have been able to do it, but not surprisingly, the 2014 Ford Fusion is one of the cars that have passed the small overlap front test.
If you are interested in learning more about what the IIHS small overlap front test is, be sure to check out the video below, where you can see the 2014 Ford Fusion going through the test. We also encourage you to check back here on our blog in the near future as many vehicles are now undergoing IIHS testing and all of the winners of the Top Safety Pick rating are sure to be announced soon. We will provide you with those as soon as they are released.
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